Dollar Store: Deal or No Deal

I last posted about my Dollar Tree shopping trip the other day:

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It was a simple trip, only 9 items: 2 glasses of wine, a bottle of foot powder spray, a plastic soap saver dish, Blistex, Carmex, Vitamin C supplements, a splatter guard, and a two pack of ankle socks.

I left the dollar store feeling happy at the deals I got. It wasn’t until I got home that I felt a plagued by whether or not I was duped into a purchase because “Everything’s a Dollar!” so it must be a great deal, right?

And so I ventured to my local Target to seek out the exact same items and compare prices. The results were pretty surprising to me.

1. Foot powder spray. Yes, let’s start with the good ole’ foot stuff. I paid $1 for 3.5oz with the same 1% active ingredient. At Target:

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Target’s off brand sells it in 4oz bottles for $3.79. Which makes it 28 cents/ounce at Dollar Tree vs. 94 cents/ounce at Target. Savings by buying at Dollar Tree: $2.79.

Dollar Tree: 1          Target: 0

2. Vitamin C supplement drops. I paid $1 for a pack of 30 drops, each at 106mg of Vitamin C. That’s a little over 3 cents/drop. At Target:

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Target’s off brand Vitamin C drops sell for $2.04 for an 80 pack of drops. That ends up being about 2 and a half cents per drop. Savings by purchasing at Target: 62 cents, approximately.

Dollar Tree: 1          Target: 1

3. Soap saver. Make that bar last longer! Of course, it was $1 at Dollar Tree. At Target:

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1 cent cheaper is still cheaper. It’s worth noting that it’s the exact same soap saver in different packaging.

Dollar Tree: 1          Target: 2

4. Blistex lip balm. $1 for one Blistex lip balm stick at Dollar Tree. At Target:

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I didn’t see them for sale individually, but a 3pk is $3.04 which makes each one slightly more than $1.01. And so it goes…

Dollar Tree: 2          Target: 2

5. Splatter guard. In case you’re as unfamiliar with the concept as I was when I first heard about it, a splatter guard is just a convenient little wire mesh flat circle that you can place over a pan when pan frying food to help prevent oil from splashing all over and making a mess. I think it’s a little unnecessary but worth a $1 to give it a try. However, at Target, the only splatter guard for sale is this:

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A fancy schmancy one for $20 more than what I paid for mine. Of course mine is much lesser quality but it will get the job done for my infrequent frying needs. It’s tough to compare, given the huge difference in quality of product, but I say Dollar Tree wins this one for offering a cheap yet effective product at 20x less the price.

Dollar Tree: 3          Target: 2

6. Wine glasses. Having taken my Dollar Tree wine glasses for a test spin the other night, I can review with confidence that they are thick, weighted, and sturdy wine glasses. I’ll even bet that people would be surprised to learn that they’re dollar store material once they’ve handled them. Target had a pretty wide selection of cheap wine glasses:

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The above glasses seemed as close a comparison in quality as possible to the dollar store ones. These end up being $1.49/glass which isn’t bad. Alternatively, Target also offers $1 wine glasses:

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But they just feel so flimsy, lightweight, and cheaper quality that it just doesn’t seem fair to call it a draw. And so I’m giving this one to Dollar Tree for offering a better wine glass at a cheaper price.

Dollar Tree: 4           Target: 2

7. Carmex lip balm. $1 at Dollar Tree for a single 0.25 ounce pot of lip balm. At Target:

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Even ignoring the really great promotion for the gift card, the regular price for a 3 pack of the Carmex lip pots is only $2.79. That makes it 93 cents each at Target compared to $1 each at the dollar store.

Dollar Tree: 4          Target: 3

8. Ankle socks. 50 cents per pair is a pretty good deal at Dollar Tree. At Target:

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$1.50 per pair. A value pack on Black Friday is the only thing that brings the price down to the dollar store prices, otherwise the value pack just brings it down to $1.04 per pair. If the quality of the dollar store ones seemed despicable then I’d consider a draw, but the quality seems quite comparable. And so it goes…

Dollar Tree: 5          Target: 3

 

Dollar Tree for the win for this shopping trip comparison! I do think it’s worth noting that the price differences were so minimal that I’m sure utilizing sales and coupons at Target would beat out Dollar Tree prices by a long shot. I was quite surprised by how close Target prices were to dollar store prices.

I’m definitely going to be more discerning about my dollar store purchases for the remainder of this challenge.

 

 

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Day 2 thru Day 4: Dollar Money Challenge

I semi-purposely chose to do this challenge during Black Friday week in order to tame my compulsion to get the BEST deal on everything. Historically, I don’t usually participate in black friday and the deals never seem to justify the early rising and pushing through crowds – but it’s all the damn online deals leading up to Cyber Monday that really get the better of me! It’s not without shame that I’ll admit that I’ve already cursed this challenge more than a few times in the handful of days it’s been active. I see things like a Real Simple magazine subscription for $5 or an Amazon deal that features a Kindle for $55 and I immediately start rationalizing the savings in my head. Real Simple magazine has a lot of coupons in it, even if I just use only 3 or 4 of those coupons then the magazine PAYS FOR ITS SELF! And if I get a Kindle, I can download books for only .99 or even FREE instead of wait for them to be available at the library or to go on sale – this will save me at least twenty bucks a year and in no time at all the Kindle will PAY FOR ITS SELF!

I have to catch myself trying to justify the spending, call myself out, look around and notice that I have pretty much everything I need.

That being said, I finally ventured out to Dollar Tree to peruse their dollar store deals and get a feel for what I have to work with for the next three weeks.

I kicked myself when I saw that they had the EXACT SAME thermometer for $1 that I had bought for $4 at Walgreens because I assumed that the dollar store wouldn’t have a thermometer. It’s these assumptions about the limits of dollar stores that make us little toads for paying more. But that’s a post/rant for another day.

I loaded up my basket with the following:

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Let me explain.

Two wine glasses: Although The Beard and I received about two dozen Riedel wine glasses when we got married a little over two years ago, all but one has shattered. Ya, we handwashed them and everything, I don’t know what their problem is. One even spontaneously shattered in my hand last year. It was weird. But these $1 ones are sturdy and thick. Plus they come in two of my favorite colors – green and plum.

Foot powder spray: Because we’re all out of it and it’s important to keep your feet dry when wearing unbreathable winter boots.

Ankle socks: Because when I asked one of my sisters what she wants for X-mas, her response was, “I don’t really need anything. Except I’m all out of ankle socks so send those.” Right.

Soap saver: It’s an elevated plastic thing that has holes in so your bar soap can drain. Yes, I use bar soap. What brand? Dial. It only took one hospital trip with MRSA for me to convert from sweet smelling shower gels to no fuss antibacterial bar soap.

Blistex & Carmex: Because I want my lips to smell like my mom’s did in 1989. And b/c I’m all out of chap stick and it’s getting really dry outside. Cracked lips, be warned.

Vitamin C drops: Because I have a real citrus candy problem. And didn’t I already mention that I’m a hypochondriac?

Splatter guard: Because although we rarely fry anything at our house, whenever we do it gets everywhere and then The Beard insists that we need to drop $10 for a splatter guard and I argue that it’s not worth it when we’ll hardly ever use it and so here I’ve paid $1 to appease The Beard whilst proving my point – I suspect we’ll only have the need for it once in the next year.

I had a fun little curious adventure at the dollar store and guess how much my loot cost me?! $9.77

I’m well aware that Dollar Stores can be terrible “value scam” places at times. (Case in point, right beside the 30 pack of generic Vitamin C drops was a 14 pack of Halls brand drops, also for $1. That’s like 7 cents per cough drop! You can get a 120 pack at Target for less than $6, bringing it out to a little less than 5 cents per drop which is clearly the better deal if you have an undying devotion to Halls brand drops!)

However, the same exact shopping trip would have cost much more at Target…I think. I’m going to test out this theory tomorrow.

Day 1 of Dollar Store Challenge: First Failure is Out of the Way

Awoke this morning to The Beard hurling his poor little guts up. Poor guy has the flu.

Being slightly hypochondriac and a definite catastrophic thinker, I quickly took his temperature with my 6 year old $5 Hy-Vee brand digital thermometer: 100.6 degrees.

Then I dropped the thermometer in the sink and it broke. True story.

In an effort to monitor his temperature (and my own!) I whisked off to Walgreens and bought one of their thermometers to replace mine.

I spent a whopping $4 and thought little of it until I left the store and remembered the Dollar Store Challenge.

I thought about returning it to remedy the situation, but health anxiety got the better of me. How can I just NOT have a thermometer for the next three weeks while my poor husband has the flu?!

And so it goes. My first failure with this challenge is out of the way. Hopefully it will be the last!

Lessons Learned from Money Challenge #1….and new challenge!

It’s been a week since Money Challenge #1 ended. It was quite humbling to come up short by almost $200. But I learned some valuable lessons to help aid me in accomplishing future challenges:

1. Don’t stop the winning streak. I quit collecting money everyday on Day 12 of my last challenge and never fully got back on board. That was a mistake. Taking a break made me lose the momentum needed for achieving the objective. In the future, there should be a daily blog post to stay motivated.

2. Be reasonable with goals. The Beard thinks it was silly to set a random dollar amount in the last challenge. When I told him I wanted to somehow make $500 in 31 days, his response was, “How did you come up with that amount as a goal?” I didn’t have a good answer. I guess it’s better to set smaller, more realistic goals.

3. Stay motivated. I could have psyched myself up more to help myself stay motivated during the last half of the challenge.

So I’ve decided to take on a similar challenge with different goal points. Plus, this one combines my love of accruing extra money with my desire to downsize my belongings in hopes of embracing a more minimalist lifestyle.

So the new challenge is:

Everyday Listing/Selling for 31 Days

That’s right. I have to list or sell something every day. Every day, I need to put something on Craigslist or Ebay or Facebook to sell or I need to somehow sell something by taking it to a resell shop.

Although I haven’t created the rules of the challenge yet, I’ve already decided to list something. So, as of Day 1, I’ve listed this brooch on Ebay:

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This kickstarts Day 1 of the challenge. Hopefully with a daily goal as part of the challenge I’ll actually be able to achieve it!

Money Challenge #1: $500 in 31 days

In lieu of an introductory post outlying the intents of this blog, I’m just going to dive into a challenge that’s been on my mind: Somehow accrue $500 EXTRA in 31 days. This means that by the end of 31 days, I need to have $500 in my savings account that was either earned or found during the 31 days timeframe outside of my day job earnings. I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to get an average of $16.12 per day. I’d have to find a lot of pennies on the ground…..

Right, let’s get to it. Laying the ground rules of Money Challenge #1:

Rule #1: As of this moment, I have $37.62 in my wallet, my checking account and my savings account. This mythical $500 I hope to have after 31 days of scrounging cannot come from any of these assets…….obviously.

Rule #2: We’re talking cold hard cash here. Not money saved. I can’t just go to the store and buy toothpaste on sale and say, “I just saved $2. That’s $2 earned toward the $500.” No. That doesn’t count.

Rule #3: Aside from my wallet, my day job earnings, my checking/savings accounts, and money saved, THIS $500 CAN COME FROM ANYWHERE! Couch cushions? YES! Sell stuff on Craigslist? YES! Odd jobs? YES! Prostitution? YE–let’s not take this too seriously.